Numbers 12. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. Blair, Second Kansas Infantry.
ARMY OF THE WEST, HDQRS. SECOND REG'T KANS. VOLS.,
August 17, 1861.
SIR: I herewith inclose you a list of the killed and wounded of my regiment,* which came under my command after the fall of Colonel Mitchell, who was dangerously wounded at the first fire we encountered. The regiment had been stationed as a reserve on a hill on the right of and overlooking the corn field in which Captain Plummer's battalion was deployed. After they had been driven back by overpowering number, and the advance of the enemy against them checked by Lieutenant Du Bois' battery, which was stationed near us, I rode forward to captain Totten's battery, still farther in our front, to see General Lyon and request him to order us forward. Upon a statement of our position, he replied, "Ordered the Second Kansas to the front!" I informed Colonel Mitchell, and he brought the regiment forward promptly. As we raised the crest of the hill beyond the advanced battery, and were still marching in column by the flank, a masked fire was opened upon us, under which General Lyon was killed (who was at the head of our column) and Colonel Mitchell was severely wounded. Colonel Mitchell sent for me and order me to take charge of the battalion, and see that it maintained the reputation of Kansas. He was then removed to the rear, and Lieutenant Schreyer, of Captain Tholen's company, assisted by two men, carried back the body of General Lyon.
I threw the battalion into line, and after sharp firing for fifteen or twenty minutes we drove the enemy back down the descending slope which was in our front. During this time the enemy's artillery was playing upon our position, but his round shot and shell were too high, and only his grape, musketry, and rifle did us great injury.
During the cessation that followed the first firing Captain Clayton's company of the First Kansas found me, which I formed on the left of my position, and the companies of Captains Roberts, Walker, and Zesch, which I formed on my right. On the right of my position a ravine stretched down to the enemy's camp, by means of which he made three several attempts to flank us. At different time I had sent men, one or two at a time, from Captain Roberts' company of the First, and Captain Cracklin's company of the Second Kansas, but they did not return. At length I rode out myself, and at twenty yards to the right of my position fire was opened upon me by what seemed to be a full company. My horse was killed under me, but I escaped unhurt. My orderly, Alexander H. Lamb, brought me his horse, which I rode during the remainder of the engagement.
At this time Major Sturgis sent me, at the request of Major Cloud, of my regiment, and Captain Chenoweth, of the First Kansas, a section of Captain Totten's battery, which just in time to save us. As the guns stopped, Captain Chenoweth rode out to the head of the ravine before mentioned, sand perceiving the approach of a large force, he, together with Major Cloud and Lieutenant Sokalski got the guns in position and opened upon them. As the enemy approached nearer I ordered the men to lie down and loaded and fire in that position and not to throw away a fire, which order, I think, was obeyed to the letter. The fire upon us was terrific, but not a man under my command broke
* See return of casualties on p. 72.